Just Open a Vein*

There are days when I write these posts and the words just come. (Possibly because I’m all worked up about something. Possibly because I’m not worried about meeting a deadline. Possibly because I’m feeling writerly.)

There are other days when I scroll through my list of ideas (some more fleshed out than others) and … nothing. When that happens, I don’t fret; I just move on to something else (often my other blog**). After all, I write out ahead of myself: I normally keep about two months’ worth of posts ready to go.

Except it’s been happening a lot lately—my stash is dwindling (so I’m nervous) and the muse is still just dancing right outside the reach of my fingertips. The ideas are still there, all sketched out and organized by categories. Waiting. I’m just not moved to write any of them.

I appear to be blocked.

Oh, sure, I could force my way into something. Actually, that’s usually one of my strategies: Just. Start. Writing. But I’m never happy with those. They have to be set aside and reworked later.

And I do that—reworking—anyway. I don’t (can’t) write a blog post quickly. (Mike Hyatt says he writes his in an hour, for example. There is no freaking way that happens in this office. My guess is I average about four hours per. Some take much, much longer.)

I agonize over them. I worry about them and want them to be, you know, good. I write them and read them out loud to the Irishman and to myself. I tweak and read out loud again, until I decide it’s good (or good enough). Sometimes y’all surprise me. You really love a post that I thought was only good enough (but maybe not great). So I try not to judge myself too harshly. But I’ve endured enough trolls to know the only way I can move past them comfortably is when I’m sure about my writing. And when I’m (pretty sure I’m) right.

Apparently this obsessing and suchlike contributes to writer’s block. :)

So (ahem) helloooooo, Morning Pages. You know about Morning Pages, right? Three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing—basically a brain download. Every single day. (I’ve blogged about this concept—created by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way—before.) Morning Pages are a discipline, yes, but they’re also a way to slow down, breathe, feel productive. Or, as author Lili Saintcrow says,

You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.

This post was my first exercise. It was suggested by a good friend who knows one way to move past writer’s block is to set all your own ideas aside and work on someone else’s. She gave me this quote too:

Writing is easy—you just open a vein and bleed.

How do you get past writer’s block?

* This post was written when I was struggling with writer’s block before my hard drive failed. For a few more weeks I wasn’t just blocked, I was in shock. Happily, inspiration has returned … but I’m not going to waste a perfectly good blog post. :)

** What? You didn’t know I write another blog? I do. It’s personal and I do it for fun. And I never have any trouble with writer’s block when I want to work over at Wanderlustful.


Tweet: A way to move past writer’s block: set your own ideas aside & work on someone else’s.
Tweet: When nothing writerly comes, I don’t fret; I just move on to something else.
Tweet: One of my strategies for writer’s block: Just. Start. Writing.

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  1. Sacha black says:

    Writers block is the scourge of the universe. I tend to go looking for inspiration usually pictorial (often pinterest) but I know you prefer words, you blogged about your thought process once, can’t remember when. But, about how you think in words and my mind nearly exploded trying to comprehend it! That was a fascinating post. Anyway, I’m rambling and not in a useful way. Where’s your other blog? Would love to follow that too